Soon after Friday’s big victory over Eastchester, a must-win in some respects for the Our Lady of Lourdes High School football team, attention was turned to an upcoming showdown with Rye.
There was little time to bask in the accomplishment, and reality’s splash of cold water came in lieu of pats on the back.
This Friday brings another challenge, even it it also brings a chance to travel down memory lane for those who hold fond memories of last autumn.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” senior Corey Mullaly said. “That team made it to the sectional final and didn’t lose a lot of guys. They’re good.”
Last November, the Warriors topped Eastchester in the Section 1 Class A semifinal, then a week later shocked Rye to capture the title on its improbable run to the state final.
Lourdes, again, enters as somewhat of an underdog — shorthanded because of injuries. The parallels are hard to ignore. But, Warriors coach Brian Walsh said, “There is no nostalgia.”
While Rye (2-0) returned a bulk of its core, including quarterback T.J. Lavelle, Lourdes graduated several of its key players. That includes Dean Rotger, who had set the Section 1 record for passing yards in that game against Rye, leading the Warriors to a 14-7 win.
As well, the Warriors (1-1) will be without star running back and linebacker Joe Scaglione, who still is recuperating with a broken arm. Quarterback Nick Gastin, who missed the previous game with a sprained ankle, still is recovering but could be ready for Friday.
“It’s a new group of kids, new situation,” Walsh said.
And a new game plan. Lourdes, as is its custom, worked meticulously this week to develop alternate defensive schemes to throw at Rye; stuff they hope the Garnets will be unprepared for.
“We change stuff up all the time, depending on the personnel,” said Mullaly, a wide receiver and linebacker. “We’re gonna show some different things on defense.”
There’s also a new weapon on offense. Jaheim Jones, promoted from junior varsity, now is in the rotation of running backs. If that name sounds familiar, you might’ve remember it from track and field season.
Jones, as a freshman, reached the state meet in June and took second in the 200-meter dash, coming within a quarter-second of winning. So, yeah, that kid is pretty fast.
“He scored a touchdown (against Eastchester) where he should’ve gotten caught by two guys,” Mullaly said of Jones’ 32-yard burst in the 14-3 win. “But he had too much speed down the sideline.”
Another parallel, perhaps. Scaglione emerged last year, seizing his opportunity as an injury replacement, and broke out in the postseason. In fact, his 55-yard touchdown catch was the difference against Rye.
“He’s not very experienced in football, but he’s got a great work ethic and he’s getting better,” Walsh said of Jones. “The skills are there. He can be a good one.”
And for as different as Lourdes’ roster is now, this season still can be a good one.
“We lost our first game last year, too,” Mullaly said. “Then we went on to have a good season.”
Nostalgia? Maybe not. But they certainly hope for déjà vu.
Stephen Haynes: email@example.com, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes